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Penny Dreadful – A Blade of Grass – Advance Preview

Everything slows down this week on Penny Dreadful. “A Blade of Grass” is rather unique, not in the fact that it is wholly character driven, but that there is little action. Don’t misunderstand, a lot happens, but this episode is special because it’s like watching a stage play unfold on our screens. Everything takes place in Vanessa’s mind as the plot pick up right where it left off with that brilliant cliffhanger from last episode.

What the viewers will get with “A Blade of Grass” is a disturbing visitation to some of the hardest moments in Vanessa Ives past. The cast is limited in this episode, giving us a break from the other plots. This is preferable to padding out those plots, but hopefully we will revisit and see them progress soon. Not only do we learn more about Vanessa, but “A Blade of Grass” offers a surprisingly engaging look at pre-Caliban Caliban. Frankenstein’s first son is not my favorite Penny Dreadful character, but by learning more about him I feel as if I can appreciate Caliban’s season two story more.

As I mentioned above, the episode has only one setting, which helps to emphasis the feeling that the audience is watching a staged drama. The passage of time is played with as entrances and exits are used to break up the scenes and establish a forward movement. The setting is stark and bare, and yet the lighting and framing of scenes makes for engaging visuals. It also helps make the subtlest of movements and actions stand out. The music, both by its presence and lack thereof, charges each scene and highlights the emotions and moods running throughout “A Blade of Grass”.

This episode is a bit of a risk as it is mostly a character study, deepening the plot but not moving it forward much. I was surprised I enjoyed it so much, but I think that’s because of how well the scenes were layered. Small actions and simple words lead to interesting revelations about our characters. Despite an underlying tension, there is a sense of intimacy in this episode, both with the protagonists and between these characters and the audience. A theme of longing for connection bleeds through to every part of the episode. And just when get comfortable, the mood shifts and you are caught off guard.

“A Blade of Grass” is a showcase of what Penny Dreadful truly does best and that’s build atmosphere, whether it’s to instill a creeping paranoia in the audience, to horrify them, or to tug at their emotions. I normally turn my nose up as a Penny Dreadful episode that doesn’t thoroughly advance the plot, but this episode stands out to me as one of the best in season three so far.

Be sure to tune in for “A Blade of Grass” this Sunday!

About the Author – Ashley B
Ashley is as serious as a sleeping curse when she says television is her life. Professional event planner, avid movie viewer, convention enthusiast, and resident sass master, Ashley writes reviews for ABC's Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and Galavant, as well as Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. She looks forward each week to the weird and wonderful world her favorite television programs provide.
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